COMIC BOOKS ARE IMPORTANT
PUBLISHED 12 July 2017
As technology & its associated market driven mentality charges forward, important cultural things get left in the dust. The system doesn't understand these things as culture or art, because the system doesn't understand culture & art - but a lot of these cultural platforms that get buried by the onslaught of progress are integral to our existence as human beings & key to our understanding of ourselves. Comic books are one of these things.
Telling a sequential story with drawn pictures predates & is the root of written language, so this method of communication is about as old & natural as anything we've got. The comic strip form has been traced to the Swiss author & caricature artist Rodolphe Töpffer who worked in the early 1800s & is considered the father of the modern comic strip. The comic strip form then took root in Germany & America with key strips being Max & Moritz by Wilhelm Busch in 1865 which in turn inspired German American immigrant Rudolph Dirks, who created the Katzenjammer Kids in 1897. The world of early American newspaper comic strips is incredible, whose depth has been barely scratched in terms of an understanding of the endless possibility of the comic art form. So - comics become the sweet dessert in the daily newspapers - entering America's homes, waiting rooms, cafe counters, barber shops, strewn on the streets, everywhere there are newspapers & the kids & other visually oriented people are immediately drawn to the power & pleasure of the comics.
In 1933 - a clever person named Maxwell Gaines at Dell Publishing decides to release a collection of comics by themselves as a comic book. The result is "A Carnival of Comics" -the first true American comic book. Five years later Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster's Superman is released & comic books shoot through America faster than a speeding bullet! Max Gaines does us another favor by starting EC COMICS in 1944. EC gives us war comics, horror comics & satire comics - but most importantly gives us MAD Magazine - published by Max's son William Gaines with Harvey Kurtzman as editor. MAD & the other EC titles then inspire the first generation of Underground Comix - which combined with the psychedelic explosion of the 60s opens up comic books to the cosmic mind.
I managed to paw over Dutch editions of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, the Smurfs, a Cartoon History of the Universe & Walt Kelly's Pogo before I could read just because they were around & it was the late 70s so my introduction to comics was through those things. The newspaper strips in the early 80s were horrendous with Peanuts, Garfield & Heathcliff being the mediocre best. At some point I discovered that 7-11 had a comic book spinner & so I started buying comics based on cover art alone & finally I found dime comics at the local comic shops & utilizing my maniacal penny-pinching abilities began piecing together a lexicon of comic books as Pop Art reference points.
All of our sons were born from 2006 onwards - a time when online comics were the newest thing, comic books had been somberly repackaged as graphic novels "not just for kids anymore" or serious Alternative comics, comics were foolishly being taught in college as sequential art & being deconstructed by mis-"Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud & some of the least interesting comics with the shittiest art were being published. We decided to give our kids the cultural background they would need to assert the GOBLINKO CULTURAL PLATFORM across the globe & so we started buying enormous numbers of cheap, old comics for the boys to read. Luckily Eugene, Oregon has a couple of comic stores (hello Emerald City Comics) that had amazing quarter bins & so it was very easy & affordable to give the Lil' Pigs a seemingly endless number of 60s, 70s & 80s Archie Comics, Hot Stuff, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, a surprising number of Jack Kirby Marvel & DC comics, Conan, MAD magazine & the like - just like I grew up with! The important thing was to make comics ubiquitous & to not treat them like precious collectible commodities. This is just one of the reasons why we started GOBLINKO doing comics & why the latest issue of PORK has the most comics in it of any issue. We believe in this medium & its importance in being the best way to communicate with words & pictures & also as the American Pop - Rock&Roll medium for eternity.
- Sean Äaberg